Water and rice: a story of life in Bali

The small Indonesian Island of Bali, famous for it’s rice paddies, beaches and natural beauty, is at an important crossroad that may forever change the future of its people. Rice production and the farmers that cultivate the grain are being threatened both by development in the tourism sector and the scarcity of labour, especially among the younger generations who are turning toward less grueling and more lucrative occupations. Although the island is not a large-scale producer of rice, its history and democratic subak irrigation system which has existed for centuries have made the island farmers among the most efficient rice producers in the Indonesian archipelago. In a place where rice is an integral part of daily life, it is not only the most important food staple to Bali’s population but is intricately linked to spirituality, culture and life in Bali.

Destination prisée par les touristes, l’île indonésienne de Bali, où la culture du riz fait partie intégrante du quotidien des résidents, se trouve à la croisée des chemins. Les rizières et leur subak, ces systèmes d’irrigation de rizières utilisés depuis des siècles, sont menacés, non seulement par les projets hôteliers, mais aussi par la raréfaction de la main-d’oeuvre, la relève étant plus intéressée par les emplois liés au tourisme.

Rice as a symbol of life in BaliA catch-22A permaculture projectAn economic struggleFather and sonThe manual labour of harvestingReady for harvestReady for dryingTeaching farmers about organic cultivationImportance of the spiritual realmSpirituality of waterCommunity and interconnectednessGifts of thanksPrayer of the devoutOfferings to the godsWhat do pigs have to do with rice cultivation?From one generation to anotherA home for the ducksNot quite readyLand and traditionAfter a long day, only one of many